Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Quality 800/880 runners 1938-2017 (part 1)

I enjoyed cross country, like the first Met League in 1966 and, doing the first 19 London Marathons (Best was at 42—2:47.58) BUT to me, the event on the track that I loved most was, the 880yds/800m and despite only winning two 880 yards races, in which one of those I was presented a medal by British Athletics team Manager, Jack Crump, for winning the Pitman’s Colleges half mile, when I was 19 but now, I am looking back and nearly 78.
To me the 800 is the most fascinating race to watch, at Olympic or world level, on the track which, of course, needs speed & stamina.

Here I have selected a few short extracts from my long interviews I did over the years.
It is a random selection of 800m internationals, putting some of their views forward. Some well known, some not but all add to the pageantry of the event.

(Part One 1938- 1970)
Sydney Wooderson

800 World records of 1:48.4 and 880 yards of 1:49.2 in 1938 on the cinders of Motspur Park. Both records done in handicap races.
“But for the fact it was company for me in the race I don’t think they really helped me whatsoever. In fact in some ways they hindered me because for the first lap they made me run too fast, whereas if I had been on my own I would have settled for a more even pace. I think it was just the fact of having company in the attempt that was the help rather that they strung out round the track, which I did not think helped me at all.”
Who did Wooderson, a European Champion 1500 (1938) 5000 (46) who did he then think  were the hardest runners, the Blackheath (& Bromley) Harrier, raced against?
“It is rather difficult because I think if you are running at your best you can beat your rivals fairly easily, but if you are not running well then you can’t. Take for instance Jack Lovelock. He was a great competitor but I beat him; yet when I ran in the 1936 Olympics and I had something wrong with my leg, of course he easily beat me. In the half-mile I ran against Mario Lanzi (2nd in the Olympic 800 (1936) and 2nd in the European 800 in 1934) - and that was a very hard race  when I beat him in the international meeting at the White City, but I never met Rudolf Harbig, the great German runner. I am quite sure he would have beaten me, because I think he is one of the greatest half milers there has ever been (Harbig 1:46.6 in 1939 and European Champion at the event in 1938).

Derek Johnson

UK Record in 1954 of 1:47.4; 1957 1:46.9; 1:46.6 1957
The First six in the Olympic Final in Melbourne in 1956
1. Tom Courtney (USA) 1:47.7 (Olympic Record; 2 Derek Johnson (GBR) 1:47.8; 3 Audun Boysen (Norway) 1:48.1; 4 Arnold Sowell (USA) 1:48.3; 5 Mike Farrell (GBR) 1:49.2; 6 Lonnie Spurrier (USA) 1:49.3.

“I think I was actually third at the bell when the field went through in 52.09.
Arnie Sowell was in front Tom Courtney was behind him with a gap of about three metres. Boysen was outside me, those positions hardly changed till the final straight. Courtney moved out, In the summer he had been disqualified for clashing with Sowell and I think he moved out to avoid any kind of that and I went through the gap. In a way I think it is a pity the gap opened up that early. People normally drift out!
‘The track was very, very poor and I trained on the University track which was shale and very, very hard and fast.’
‘I think my fastest season was in 1957 after the Olympic Games. I trod on a hose when I was living in Stockholm and wrecked the deltoid ligaments and I was not running for three weeks then, I ran again in a race and I was pushed onto a curb and did it again so, it took about six weeks of the summer season and that was it but I ran my fastest time that year of 1:46.6 but I think quite honestly, I was on for the World record that season for the 800 but considering I had six weeks off in the competitive season, you don’t often recover from it ”

Brian Hewson

(The first two athletes I sort of hero worshiped, as a 9 & 10 year old, was after I went to the White City Stadium. My Father was a friend of the Manager of the White City so, we got heavenly seats that one can only dream about now- Anyway, the two were McDonald Bailey the sprinter and Bill Nankeville, three times AAA’ Champion. The latter was a stylish good looking runner like Brian Hewson, who won the 1500 in the European Games of 1958.
Brian worked in Simpson’s outfitters at the time he competed and came from work in the West End’ Tailor Made’ to run at the White City Stadium in international races. Hewson was primarily an 800m runner, of that there was little doubt and when Herb Elliott came to London , never of course being beaten over 800/1500, he did not really expect what would happen to him at the White City Stadium, in an international race but it did by both Brian Hewson (1:48.3) and European 800 champion Mike Rawson.) Brian Hewson said

“I felt tremendous that day. It all went like clockwork’
I had a slower than usual start but I was able to pick up the pace and feel good, and when I called upon a sprint it was there and away I went. I ran 17 races against Mike Rawson, and never once did he get in front of me at the finish but sometimes it was very close!’
Soon after that he clashed with the Australian Herb Elliott again, at Cardiff in the Commonwealth Games over 880 ‘I respected Elliott as a fantastic athlete, even though I had beaten him on that one occasion, because he had a tremendous record. He was the athlete to beat in the Commonwealth 880 yards. It was a very, very slow first lap, with everyone watching each other, and I was behind watching Elliott. Elliott jumped just before the bell, and before I realised he was 5 yards up. I immediately went after him down the back straight, I was closing up to get on his shoulder and I could not edge by him. I was timed at sub 50 seconds for that last quarter. I was bitterly disappointed because I fought so hard but he was so strong.”
(Herb of course trained a lot, running up sand dunes in Australia, under the watchful eye of his coach Percy Cerruty where as Franz Stampfl coached Brian Hewson and, he were keener on plenty of interval work).

Morgan Groth

In 1964, Morgan Groth, won the Final Olympic Trials over 800m in the United States in 1:47.2 so qualified as the No1 runner for the States in that event for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. A charming man, whom I met at Lancaster Gate, when he came to London in 1963 and it, was after he had won the match for USA v GB over 880, at the White City Stadium. However, at the Olympics he went out in the heat in round One in 1:51.4.
The interesting thing for me was the fact, that so many Great Americans have gone out in the first round in the brutal Olympic competition for the 800 and, you are only to look at the next Olympics in Mexico, in 1968, where the Olympic Trials winner Wade Bell went out in the first round but statistician, Bob Sparkes said in Athletics Arena magazine that Wade Bell was suffering from Montezuma Revenge!.
We never witnessed what Don Paige would have done if the Americans had not pulled out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow in 1980 as the trials winner he later beat Seb Coe after the Olympics had been concluded.
Back to Morgan Groth, a stylish runner to watch, like Hewson, in earlier times.
He was born in Martinus, California, August the 31st 1943. He won the 1500 race against West Germany in 3:42.4 in the 1500. but it is the 880/800 we are concentrating on here.
As a 15 year old he ran 2:01.8 at the Alhambra High school Sports 880.
“When I started out in high school, I used to admire all the senior athletes, as I grew older; I came to hear of, and appreciated the great Herb Elliott. He’s the one person I admire most, not only was he sheer enjoyment to watch, his training was so tremendously inspiring and invigorating
“What was Morgan Groth’s training like in 1963, before the Olympic year
“Mostly, my early winter training is based on cross-country and distance running over 2 miles, to build stamina. Then, as the months go by this is tapered off to shorter work such as repetition 110, 220 and 440yds. I enjoy my running, training as well and would say to the budding youngster Enjoy your running, as much as possible, and don’t push it too hard while you're still young. Take your athletics seriously by all means, but have plenty of fun at the same time”

John Boulter

He was UK 800m record holder with 1:46.5 on June 18th 1966.
Chris Carter, the Brighton Policeman, was record holder with 1:46.6 in 1965 and again on September 4 1966 with 1:46.3. John Boulter did make the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 won his 1st round heat in 1:48.9 and 4th of 8 in his semi-final in 1:47.1.
I talked to him after he won the AAA Championship over 880 in 1:47.3 in 1967

It was at the time John was a teacher in French & German at Cheltenham College.
“I first began running at school in Colchester, Essex then, I continued when I went to a secondary school in Bolton, Lancashire and while I was there I ran 51.1 for the 440 and 2:02.0 for the 880’
‘After going up to Oxford I progressed to break 2 minutes for the first time in 1:57.’
It was a little later on he won the Oxford & Cambridge v Harvard & Yale 880 in.’
‘I did 1:47.8 and equalled Brian Hewson’s record
“That was a great day for me.”
He was advised by Lionel Pugh & Bill Marlow but, was very much his own man in many ways, with a great sense of humour. About 1967 he said at the time
“This year I think I am running better than ever before. I did not wish to take two days off from my school work so I did not run in the Inter-Counties Championships but did the invitation 880 and did 1:50.2.

Bill Crothers

In 1963 Bill Crothers was the fastest in the World that year with 1:46.1.
He came to London in 1963 and, in the AAA’s Indoor Championships won the 600 yards & 1000 yard races. He was 22 that year. He had been eliminated in the Perth Empire Games of 1962, In the semi final he did 1:52.3 but won his 1st round heat in 1:51.4 but, it was after that he made rapid progress.
Which race gave him most satisfaction up till March of 1963?
“A relay race last year (1962) and a relay race this year (1963). In Chicago I ran .4 of a second outside the World Indoor 1000yard record, but one hour after this race I came back and ran in a 4x400 yards relay for the University of Toronto. In this race I had the anchor leg and did 47.7 seconds, which is exceptional time indoors. Two teams we defeated were Illinois University and North Western University- I won by about 30 yards.’
‘I became interested in athletics when I was 14 at school, where we also played soccer, American football and ice hockey. I trained with Bruce Kidd, the Canadian Empire Games 6 mile Champion.”
Now I will point out that at the Perth games, and the Olympics of 1960 & 1964 the winner was the powerful New Zealander Peter Snell.
The result at  Tokyo at the 1964 Olympics was 1 Peter Snell (NZ) 1:45.1 (Olympic record) 2 Bill Crothers 1:45.6; 3 Wilson Kiprugut (Kenya) 1:45.9; 4 George Kerr (JAM) 1:45.9; 6 Jerry Siebert (USA) 1:47.0; 7 Dieter Bogatzki Germany (FRG) 1:47.2 and 8 Jacques Pennewaert (Bel) 1:50.5.

Wilson Kiprugut

The thing about Wilson Kiprugut was he was, not only 3rd at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 but went on to be 2nd in the Mexico Olympic 800 in 1968 and he was 2nd also in the Commonwealth Games 880 Final before that in 1966 in 1:47.2
“One week before travelling to Tokyo with the Kenyan team, I met Mal Whitfield (From USA-The 800 Olympic Champion of 1948 & 1952) who, after watching me run suggested ways in which I could benefit more in racing by using my arms ‘correctly’ . I suppose I must have thought a great deal about what he said afterwards, as nobody else had told me I was not using my arms properly before then. Now, though holding them a little higher, I find it much more relaxing by just letting the arms swing, that by trying to control the angle at which they should be held, which merely uses more energy, and channels concentration from the race in hand.’
‘I started running whilst at school, where I was lucky in having a master interested very much in most games, and myself I took a tremendous interest in football, basketball & badminton, as well as athletics. Though not qualified, as most athletics coaches are nowadays, this sports master, at the Sitwop High School, not far from Nairobi where I lived was himself an athlete; a pole vaulter.
‘The event I enjoyed most in the early days was the quarter mile and I suppose, unconsciously, I must have begun a sort of specialisation’ In the event as far as we schoolboys are concerned. It was not till 1958 that I ventured into two lap racing.’
The Tokyo Olympics with Wilson Kiprugut

“I was very surprised, and indeed overjoyed at getting a bronze medal in Tokyo, and I can remember thinking that after some of my team-mates were quite sick during their stay in Japan, and did not perform to well, that I must do my level best to make up for it by getting a medal. In the heats I felt I was just coming though fine, and though I treated those races as if my very life depended on them, I found them less difficult than I had first anticipated.’
‘In the final the weather was fine and warm, and I took the lead early on, in fact just as we came out of the stagger, and ran for dear life – feeling reasonably relaxed I suppose – until with about 220 to go, Peter Snell raced past, making me feel I just wasn’t running, with George Kerr on his heels. As they went past one of then touched me, sending me off balance a little. I just seemed to stop then, and looked right to see Bill Crothers, stumbled, as my feet seemed to just drag along the track, felt Kerr next to me, dipped and it was all over. I was so surprised to find that I had edged out George at the tape, that realising I was a bronze medallist”

Ralph Doubell

Born February 11th 1945. Started his athletics after entering high school at 16.
Olympic Champion in 1968 in Mexico, equalling the World record of Peter Snell.
The Final on the 15th of October. 1 Ralph Doubell (Australia) 1:44.3 WR; 2 Wilson Kiprugut (Kenya) 1:44.5; 3 Tom Farrell (USA) 1:45.4; 4 Walter Adams (West Germany) 1:45.8; 5 Joseph Plachy  (CZE) 1:45.9 8 (European Junior record); 6 Dieter Fromm (East Germany) 1:46.2; 7 Thomas Saisi (Kenya) 1:47.5; and 8 Benedict Cayenne (Trinidad) 1:54.3. Kiprugut led at 200 in 24.1; 400 51.0; and 600 77.8.
First 2 in the Semi-Finals Heat 1. Adams 1:46.4; From 1:46.5 Heat 2 1 Doubell 1:45.7. He was undefeated over 800/1000 in the indoor season of 1967/68. He had been 6th in the Final at the Commonwealth of 1966 a position he had in the Commonwealth in Edinburgh in 1970 so, it appears his real World Class form was coming into 1967 & again in 1968.

“I used to do the sprints but as I never won a race my time was not taken.’
After a year of this he decided to try the longer distances 440 and 880, clocking around 53.0 and 2.05.0 -2.08. In 1963 he started a little training and that season dipped below two minutes with 1:59.8. Then he went to Melbourne University came under the influence of Coach Franz Stamfl. ‘I started regular and systematic training for both the quarter and the half mile. And lowered my best to 1:49.8 for 800m and did regularly under 50. for the 440 but faster on relay legs’
Regarding Olympic year as a build up to the games 20x440yds, 10x880, 30x220, 50 x100 etc ‘In one session I would run about three miles in the morning at a very slow pace, almost jog-pace and then in the evening another three miles jog followed by interval training session Then , in August, I suffered quite a bit with Achilles tendon trouble and so I had to ease off the interval work and make do with slow longish runs plus weight training and other activities like swimming. The Achilles tendon trouble became worse and I had to stop training completely for about two weeks. I was worried that I might at the last moment be dropped from the Australian Olympic team; I received treatment to the tendon twice daily right up until the team left for Mexico City—with me. I was not able to run in spikes for at least six weeks before the 15th of September when the team left. On that day I put spikes on and ran a time-trial over 440yards clocking 49.9, there was no pain. I had passed the test. A week earlier I ran a ¾ mile time trial in warm up shoes and was timed at 3:01.8. Everything worked out right with days to spare”
It was not long after the plane landed in Mexico City that Doubell began easy training.
He was extremely worried by the fact he had not run an 800 or 880 for five months, in fact his first race for six months was the heat.
For myself I experienced the feeling being out of breath for the first few days I did , however; it seems from experiments that had taken place  before the Games that the time limit for acclimatization in racing is sub-two minutes, so over 800 metres I was not effected. My one worry was that I would be affected by having three races at the distance within a short time as the recovery rate at 7,000 feet is somewhat slow.
Of his first round heat, that first race he had run for six months ‘I felt reasonably comfortable, but I did not know just how much I had left in me (Doubell won in 1:47.2)    
‘The semi final race was a tough one compared with the first one won by Adams in 1:46.4.
I did not feel too good. I moved up from the back of the field to about fifth or sixth entering the home straight on the first lap. Kiprugut led through in 50.8, then on the back straight I thought I had better move up to 2nd or 3rd place but suddenly found that I was in the lead, and without much effort. I felt very easy, and was surprised at the time (1:45.7) announced. This gave me confidence at last. I knew just what I had got to do now in the final—provided that my strength would last out. I was still fairly frightened that I might fade out in the race because of altitude effects.”
The Final:- The race worked out just as planned; for me, anyway. Kiprugut hammered off at the start and I settled in mid-field at the break-in on the back straight; I say mid-field position. We were all pretty close to Kip and a mid-field position was not more than four  or five metres behind him .I relaxed and went trough  the first 600 fairly easily and then, again when I hit the straight I just put everything into it for an all-out effort. That last straight seemed to last for ever. I could feel Kip fighting very strongly at my left shoulder as we approached the tape. I was just lucky, I feel that my plan worked out perfectly, and that no one got in the way. If they had have done then maybe I might not have made it.”

Jim Ryun

Ryun was a massive talent and if only he had not been frightened of the effects of altitude he would easily won the 1500 in Mexico City as he beat the gold medallist Kip Keino at sea level at the White City by a large margin. He achieved his World 880 record of 1:44.9 in 1966 plus over 1500 3:33.1 in 1967; and mile 3:51.1 in 1967.
Which was the hardest to do “None of them were really hard races, I don’t think? Maybe the half mile was, but quite honestly, I can’t say any one of those races was harder than the other because each was a different situation; each was quite different. Don’t misunderstand me though. I felt tried after each one of those runs but not actually exhausted. I enjoyed the races, and in fact although it may sound a little contradictory to what I said earlier about concentrating on the mile. I rated Herb Elliott’s 1500 record of 3:35.6 as very good indeed, and that it would be at least another year or so before it was removed from the record books. So for me to rub it out by such a big margin was a great surprise to me.”
     ‘As for following the ideas of well-known coaches no, I have my own coach Bob Timmons, and his ideas have been formed from his own experience as an athlete, and from being a practising coach for many years ‘He trained Archi San Romani, who was a very fine athlete’
At the time of this interview, on the stairs in a Lancaster Gate hotel in 1968, Jim Ryun said he was at college in Lawrence Kansas, studying Business Administration.
His philosophy at the time was very sound
“I am not imprisoned in a web woven by anyone else; my parents for example, are interested in my track career, but they don’t put any pressures on me to keep at it. Bob Timmons, as another example, made me work, but I would not have done the work unless I wanted to. We just worked out together what would be the best thing to do, as we went along. However, without him in the beginning I would not have come so far so quickly. He started me training hard when I was young, and without him I would not have matured physically as fast. But you see, in the long run it depends on yourself. I then had to do that work. Bob Timmons showed me how. Everybody needs some-one to guide them if they are to realise any potential they have; nobody can ay truthfully say that he can ‘do it alone’  It was just luck that I happed to chose a cross country run one day for something to do. (15 years old at  high school)
‘I couldn’t do anything else at school; I couldn’t make the school team in any other sport.”

Madeline Manning

She was married and then divorced and re-married so her name at the time of writing is Madeleine Manning Mimms and she, has two grown up children. She is an important chaplain to athletes.
 She won 10 USA National titles over 800m. I met her in the Mexico Olympic village in 1968, when I was 28. She went on to compete in further Olympics and gained 4x 400 relay silver medal in Munich in 1972.
  She was 17 in 1965 when she took up track running on the cinders as a student at John Hay High school. She enjoyed playing basketball and volley, ball. It was on the track she first became noticed by John Hay coach Alt Ferrenzy, took an interest in her right away and then, took her along to his club
. “This was a wonderful opportunity, because it gave me more races. I was entered by the club in the National Championships that year and won the division title and, set a new record for my age group. . Everything happened at once. I made the US team, and ran in the matches against teams from the Soviet Union, Poland and West Germany. My best that year was 54.5 for 440 yards, and I was later surprised to find that this ranked me 8th fastest girl in the World. That race was at Wichita on July 23rd. I also went to the mini Olympic Games in October.
In 1966 Madeline switched over completely to half-miling, ending the season with 2:06.2 for 20th place on the World list. At 18 then she was looking to the future
“I felt I could not have run much faster over the shorter distance, where I was still developing. She felt more relaxed doing the half mile as she explained “I used to tense up very easily over the one lap race. I suppose to some degree there is little freedom in a   quarter, having to keep in between two white lines the whole way round and not knowing what was likely to happen by the time I reached the finishing post.”
Her club was the Tennessee Tiger Belles.
She ran 2:03.6 in 1967. In August 1967 she won the Pan- American Games 800 in Winnipeg and in 2:02.3 from Doris brown (2:02.9). In the year she also defeated Vera Nikolic (Yugoslavia) her best time in 1967 was, at the time a World record of 2:01.6. It was not that special for her going into the Olympics, with just a best in 1968, of 2:03.0 in the months leading up to the games.
In Mexico City at the Olympics
“I won my heat and semi final and it felt very easy (2.08.7 & 2.05.8)
19th of October Final:-
1 Madeline Manning (USA) 2:00.9 a new Olympic record; 2 Ilona Silai (RUM) 2:02.5 3 Maria Gommers (Holland) 2:02.6; 4 Sheila Taylor (Carey) GB 2.03.8; 5 Doris Brown (USA) 2:03.8; 6 Pat Lowe (Cropper) 2:04.2 (GB) 7 Abigail Hoffman 2:05.8 (Canada) 2:06.8, 8 Maryvonne Dupureur (France) 2:08.2.

“In the Final I was out in lane eight, the blind man’s lane where I could not see any of the other competitors until the back straight. I just knew that I would have to run out fast round the bend, which I did. Then, when we hit the back straight I found myself in front so just stayed there. The pace seemed very comfortable for me and no-one came through to speed it up. When we broke from lanes on the back straight Silai of Rumania came up to my shoulder and we ran together for the rest of the first lap. After about 500 metres I started to push it a bit more and started a sprint coming off the curve into the home straight. I was still very comfortable and then, I had won the race. I was so pleased at winning the gold medal; I could hardly stop crying for joy’
      ‘It is difficult to say just how much discomfort was purely as a result of the actual race, as opposed to altitude. We would certainly have found it much more difficult to have run there had we not trained at altitude for a while beforehand. The team was in Los Alamos from the 15th of September and we left for Mexico City on the 30th, and from then on until the Games started we were training up in the hills around Mexico City.”

Lillian Board MBE

She was born in Durban, South Africa, 13th of December 1948. ‘The Golden Girl of athletics 1968-69.’
A ‘Great’ athlete who achieved the main award for being the outstanding athlete of all at the European Games in Athens in 1969 for her ‘Great’ last leg effort in the 4x400m relay to beat Colette Besson, the Olympic 400m Champion, from France, in her dash up the home straight and also for winning 800m Gold, having achieved the silver in the individual 400 the year before at the Olympics in Mexico. She was certainly an attractive  looking lady and, had an engaging personality but died, tragically from Cancer the year after her great exploits in Athens at the tender age of 22.
Her Father George Board coached her and, I sent him my long tape with my interview with Lillian, at her home in Ealing, in late 1969. That was before she got very ill and went to Swizerland, where she unfortunately died.
George said “Hearing her voice is a great help to keep the atmosphere alive. I know Lillian would be delighted to know that we have your interview”
Here is her description of her 800m Final in the European Games in the warmth of Athens.
(12/8/69)  First of all the first Six in the Final. 1. Lillian Board GB) 2:,01.4; 2Annelise Damm-Olsen (Denmark) 2.02.6; 2.Vera Nikolic (Yug) the winner in 1966 & 1971 2:02.6; 4 Barbara Wieck 2.02.7 (EG); 5 Iliana Silia (RUM) 2:03.0; 6 Pat Lowe  (GB) 2:03.4.

    “The person who worried me most was Vera Nikolic. I knew that if she went out fantastically fast –if she covered the first 200metres in 26-27 seconds—she would probably not win. But certainly play havoc with the pace. One would be running, and wondering, supposing we do let her get away, one had those races where you say, oh let her go,  and you find  that she–whoever she might be—has been allowed to get too far away, and she would win. I made up my mind to think that, and just let the race unfold—that was my big problem. I still thought Please God, don’t let Vera go off like a rocket, because if she goes too fast, I won’t know what to do about the pace, then shall I sit tight with the others or shall I wait until Silai goes: will she go after Nikolic, or shall I wait till Silai goes; will she go after Nikolic or shall I go after Vera myself?  So, you see you can have three different races going through your mind.
‘Well the gun went for the start of the final –Vera did not go off fast, she stayed in the bunch, and that thrilled me no end. We were all in a bunch and I was sitting on Vera’s  shoulder, - and it does not matter who it is  I just  like to be sitting on the shoulder of the leader, helping her, and sharing the lead—if she doesn’t mind, of course. That was how the race went then, until the end of the first lap. Silai came up, and I faltered momentarily over someone (I can’t remember who it was), I don’t know why, and let her get a couple of metres ahead of me – we all have such long strides, and it is easy to get a spiking without knowing it, and I did get a slight spiking, or felt something- and so on round the 600 metres mark. I thought, suddenly, I am feeling fatigued, or else the pace is quickening, so I started to move a bit faster, too. All the time now, with just that 200 metes left of the race my mind was ticking away…Keep with the leaders, and if you are with the with 100metres to go, you’ll win…Yes that sounds so easy
‘On the last 200 meters, Nikolic and Silai began to pull away slightly, and I put in that extra effort quickening my pace to stay with them. I must stay with them, I must. Then we were there with 100metres to go, and all the differing pieces of advice I had thrown at me became a jumble in my head. A little voice said “You’re with them; there’s 100 metres to go; it is all over’ I made a move out into the third lane, dropping back slightly as I made the move –and then I went. I waited for a retaliation, which did not come, and thought where area they? Please don’t catch me before I get to the tape, and they didn’t!”

Alastair Aitken

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